‘Kashmiris may soon need visa for PirPanchal, Chenab Valley’

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SRINAGAR: KCSDS, a civil society group Saturday accused the state government of not allowing them to venture into Jammu region to pay obeisance at revered shrine, followed by interaction with the civil society in the other region.
Addressing a hurriedly called press conference, the KCSDS said the Peoples Democratic Party led government was shrinking the political space in the state.
“The state police is brazenly used to promote politics linked to a particular ideological political party. Whereas the shrinking of political space and high handedness against political activists and resistance leaders is the norm here, but today civil society has been stopped for the first time in its history from a free movement in its own territory for no reason except to thwart the peaceful activities for  greater good of the society,” the KCSDS members including Syed Shakeel Qalander told media persons.
Qalander said on May 27, KCSDS members proceeded to pay obeisance at the revered shrine of Shahdra Sharief located in district Rajouri. “For the next day we had planned a civil society interaction with the prominent civil society members of district Rajouri and Poonch  as part of our ongoing civil society interactions in various districts,” he said.
“But after travelling a distance of over 100 kms, upto Peer ki-Gali, KCSDS team led by Prof Hameedah Nayeem and other members including Dr Javaid Iqbal, AM Zargar, Zahid Ghulam Muhammad, Qurat ul Ain and others  was stopped by a heavy contingent of fully armed JK police which included male and female constables,” the civil society group said.
“An executive magistrate was also with them to order arrest in case of stiff resistance from us. Road blocks and barricades were put up across the road in a way as if some’ most wanted’ persons had to be prevented from escaping,” the KSCDS complained.
“When we asked the reason of being stopped, the in-charge police officer told us that he could not let us proceed on the orders from his high ups including IGP Jammu. He also informed us about some ongoing  protests  in Rajouri town which could be hurtful to us. But when we informed about our schedule to have a night stay at Dargah followed by our visit to Thanamandi locality only on Saturday  for civil society interaction, he still did not allow us to proceed,” the KCSDS said.
“It seems BJP dominated Govt would ask us to obtain  visas to visit Pirpanchal and Chenab valleys  to visit those areas over which they are exhibiting sole monopoly. The regime has dangerous designs of shrinking the civil society space for interaction, advocacy and research on socio-economic issues on which we have been generating public discourses for greater good of the entire society,” the forum said.

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